Alice Levitt's Best New Restaurant Dishes of 2012
In revealing my picks for best new restaurant of 2012, I already expounded on my unholy affection for the salsa-verde-drenched tocino taco at El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina and, well, pretty much everything at Bluebird Barbecue.
Clearly, those are a couple of the best things I ate this year. But in an exceptionally good 12 months of restaurant openings, plenty of other dishes are worthy of mention. Here are 10 of my favorites.
A muffin? Huh?
No, seriously, a muffin was one of the best things I ate all year. The very first day that Next Door Bakery Café opened its doors in Shelburne, I was smitten.
The honeysuckle-blueberry muffin has a silky texture unlike anything I've ever experienced in a muffin before, and I'll never be satisfied with most versions again. But among the wonderful firsts of the streusel-topped pastry, my first (and second and third...) honeysuckle aftertaste was definitely the coolest.
If the muffins at Next Door Bakery made me rethink the breakfast pastry, the hot chocolate at Montpelier's newest food cart did the same for hot drinks.
More like thick, rich European drinking chocolates than Swiss Miss, texture was just one thing that separated Grünhaus' chocolate from the pack. A dark, complex flavor, courtesy of a mix of Swedish and Belgian chocolates, is another. But best of all is the opportunity to pair it with a lefse, a sandwich wrapped in ultra-thin potato bread. I recommend the Elvis, composed of chocolate-almond butter, cinnamon, blueberries and bananas.
My colleague Corin Hirsch pines for an Italian market in Burlington. We might not have that yet, but those of us craving a great Italian sub have finally found one at Stacks. Sharp Genoa salami, intense soppressata and mild, sweet ham combine with Provolone to create New Jersey in sandwich form. Ask for extra vinegar, and a trip south is rendered (mostly) unnecessary. Best of all, the sturdy, sesame-crusted rolls stand up to refrigeration, so get a large sandwich and have lunch the next day, too.